City agencies get equipment for oil spill cleanups

Three San Francisco agencies are receiving oil spill response equipment this week to help the city be better prepared in the event of a future spill in the San Francisco Bay, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game said Tuesday.

The San Francisco Fire Department, the San Francisco Police Marine Patrol, and the Port of San Francisco is each being given up to $26,000 in equipment and will receive training Wednesday to help if an oil spill were to occur near the city's shoreline, Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Carol Singleton said.

San Francisco is the latest city to receive the equipment from the state, which has given out $658,000 worth of equipment to 16 different cities since the grant program started in 2008, Singleton said.

The equipment includes up to 1,000 feet of containment boom, a sponge-like material used to soak up the oil, as well as other support equipment that will be stored in a trailer provided by the state. Training on how to deploy the equipment will also be given by Global Diving and Salvage, Inc.

The Alameda County Fire Department, East Bay Regional Park District, and the Port of Oakland each had previously received the grant, and all put their equipment and training to use when the Panamanian tanker Dubai Star leaked hundreds of gallons of oil into the Bay two miles south of the Bay Bridge on Oct. 30.

The spill resulted in the death of 32 shorebirds. More than 300 people were in the field at the peak of the response, and about $7.2 million was spent by the state on the spill, the cost of which was paid by the responsible party.

Although San Francisco was not affected by the Dubai Star oil spill, the city was recently selected to receive the grant because of the risk that a significant marine oil spill will occur in its jurisdiction, and its proximity to ecologically sensitive sites, Singleton said.

In the event of a spill, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Game focus primarily on protecting environmentally sensitive sites, while economically sensitive areas like marinas and harbors might be a
lower priority.

Since San Francisco has miles of shoreline with a variety of economically important spots along it, these grants allow the city “to go ahead and deploy the equipment and protect what they feel is important to the community” in those areas without having to wait for other authorities to arrive, Singleton said.

On Wednesday, the three city agencies will be receiving the hands-on portion of the training on how to deploy the equipment. The training is scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the San Francisco Police Dock at the Hyde Street Pier, located near the intersection of Jefferson and Hyde streets.

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